September 15-16 marked the annual “Clean Up the World” campaign.
The initiative runs across 130 countries each year, engaging an estimated 35 million volunteers. This makes it one of the largest community-based environmental campaigns in the world. The campaign encourages community groups, schools, businesses and local governments to join together to carry out activities that address local environmental issues.
As a small business, it’s obviously the right thing to do. But is it a priority?
The answer is “yes”. It seems the economics of reducing, reusing and recycling – done properly – can benefit small business owners.
Running a more economically efficient small business
Recycling can save you money. The movement, organisation and combustion of waste adds up, so it makes sense for a small business to recycle, where every cent counts.
If you recycle, there’s less going into waste bins every week. Since your business likely pays some type of waste management fee, you can potentially save on those bills by producing less waste.
If you create a recycling program and track your results to show that you’re producing less waste, you can potentially work with your waste management service to negotiate a lower fee, saving your business money in the long run.
Take that a step further and undertake a waste management audit. It will cost money in the short term but likely save money over time. An audit would help identify logistical inefficiencies and equipment utilisation choices to help realise immediate and measurable savings at the same time.
Depending on where you live, there may also be incentives or grants available for certain green business choices. These savings can add up quickly, even on a small scale, so check with your local council or the EPA in your state.
Meanwhile, purchasing re-manufactured goods from recycled materials saves business and consumers money. The most cost-effective options are always reusing or reducing resources when possible.
Here are a few simple ideas:
- If you’re running a cafe, ask your customers to bring their own cup or offer reusable cups for a small price. Take it a step further by offering tap water only and reusable drinkware.
- Think about composting, or join a food rescue organisation. It may not save money, but it will benefit your reputation.
- Install eco-friendly lighting systems and keep printing to black and white and double-sided. Better still, go paperless.
- Use any available land or roof space to reduce your electricity consumption with solar panels.
Growing your business reputation
Businesses, big and small, like to be liked. It’s called reputation and it’s the strongest positive attribute a company can possess. A good reputation will grow your business, a bad one could kill it.
Growing awareness of climate change and plastic management have taken on big followings right across the community. Your customers and your employees care about you being environmentally responsible. They will support you with their loyalty and most importantly, they will tell others about what a great business you are.
Letting your customers know that your business is environmentally responsible can be beneficial. Utilise your social media and website to let customers know of new programs or processes you’re implementing to make your business more environmentally responsible. You could even contact your local news outlet to see if they are interested in featuring a story about your business’s environmental or community contributions.
Attracting the right employees
Think about the sort of people you want to employ in your small business and how you’re going to attract them to work for you.
Most employees today are environmentally conscious and naturally recycle waste in their private lives. Environmentally sustainable business practices will likely become more common as each generation of environmentally aware employees enters the workforce.
Adopting environmentally friendly policies in the workplace can make your company more attractive to job seekers and create a sense of pride amongst your employees. If your employees are particularly passionate about the environment, get them actively involved in supporting your business with new ideas and initiatives.
“Like attracts like” – meaning people will be drawn to your business because they like what you practice. You may find your business discovers a whole new customer base who like what you’re doing for the environment and wants to support your environmentally-friendly business over your competitors.
Clean Up the World, https://www.cleanuptheworld.org/